Still Stepping on the Little Man 3 years Later!
Write & Call to Complain About This Racial Injustice!
Thomas Atkins is an American Indian from the Chickahominy and Mattaponi Tribes of Virginia.
He was an employee of Winchester Homes Inc. of Baltimore and Bethesda Maryland a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Corp.
During the first almost two years Thomas was employed there, he never had any problems.
In fact, He was a First Aide-First Responder for the Company and he was on the Safety
Committee for 2003. As well as winning the first annual Safety Slogan contest in 2002.
The plant manager at that time was a Mr.Don Gardner.
You never heard any negative racial terms come out of anyone's mouth.
Mainly because Don Gardner would not have put up with it.
Throughout 2003 & 2004 however, while working at the Baltimore Plant Thomas was called a variety of names and threatened with bodily harm on many occasions by fellow employees.
This in turn subjected him to a very hostile work environment. He was made to feel on edge and anxious during most of his work day.
He complained to his immediate supervisor's Edward Brooks Sr and the new plant manager Edward Duffy several times. Only to be told by Edward Duffy, " Your Indian, I don't understand why you let these guys get you angry. After all, that's not the way of your people."
He tried to let these things go. This is when he noticed that he was being called into Mr.Duffy's office on a regular basis and told how he wasn't doing his job safely or his quality was slipping. As though he was trying to find any reason to write Thomas up.
But daily Thomas was called "Redskin", "Pocahontas", "Injun", "Coshise", "Chief", "Tonto" or "Geronimo". On a few occasions co-workers that would walk by his work station would tap their hand on their mouth and yell, "Woo Woo Woo!" like the old westerns of the 40's and 50's. Once right in front of Larry Freiert(the Baltimore Manager), Edward Duffy & Edward Brooks. When he turned around to see who did it. All three along with the employee were laughing as though it were a big joke.
Even with the bosses around, Thomas was subjected to continuous and severe racial degradation at the hands of his co-workers. He recieved no assistance from those supervisors who were supposed to be his protection from any wrong doing on the job.
While others on the job were allowed to play their hip-hop and heavy-metal music as loud as they wanted. Thomas was repeatedly told by Edward Brooks Sr. or Edward Duffy ( at least three times a week) to turn his music down. Just because he played the traditional powwow music of his American Indian Ancestors is no reason why Thomas should have been singled out to turn his music down while everyone else was left alone.
Thomas was made to feel less than human during much of his work hours.
On one occasion while using the restroom an employee was complaining about all the new quota's they had to make, now that Edward Duffy had taken over as Plant Manager. Thomas was Told, " You know how these white people are Tom, Your a Cracker just like them" by a fellow co-worker. Thomas told him, "never call me anything other then my name". This was even witnessed by another co-worker .
Thomas reported this to Ed Duffy and was told, "Just leave it alone, if you just ignore it then they won't want to tease you. I see you in my office more then anyone else here. Just do your job and stop complaining".
So, Thomas decided to try and not rock the boat.
Then one morning about a month later, came a series of racial insults by another fellow employee whom Thomas had complained about many times. Everyone was gathered by the snack machine area when the co-worker called Thomas the "ugliest version of Pocahontas" He'd ever seen and "A broke down pale face version of Tonto". This got a laugh out of the crew, including both Edward Duffy(plant manager) and Edward Brooks(floor supervisor). Only after Thomas yelled at his co-worker to never call him that again did Edward Brooks speak up to say,"Okay, that's enough of that, let's get to work".
Later that day, Thomas was being cussed out by the same co-worker from the restroom incident for supposedly making a part the wrong size for a wall. When Thomas ignored him and didn't argue, he proceeded to fill out a negative form on Thomas' quality and safety.
That was when Thomas had enough. This time instead of going to Edward Brooks or Edward Duffy, He went to the Winchester Homes Baltimore Manager, Mr.Larry Freiert. Thomas explained everything to him. Then he called Edward Duffy in and asked him what happened.
Edward Duffy denied that Thomas had ever complained to him. Mr.Freiert told Thomas to go back to work.
They sent for the co-worker and upon his return he began yelling at Thomas, "You fat ass bitch, f**k you Pocahontas. You can suck my d**k".
Edward Brooks witnessed this but only stopped it after Thomas began yelling back at his co-worker about him being "A racist bastard".
The only time that anything was ever said by the bosses was when Thomas would verbally defend myself.
He even got written up after a co-worker and friend of Edward Brooks failed to do his assigned work because he had been standing around talking to Mr.Brooks most of the day. Edward Brooks wanted Thomas to do extra work to make up for it. Thomas reported this to Edward Duffy. After doing so the co-worker came into Thomas' work area and threatened him saying, "If I get written up because of your Redskin ass, I'm gonna f**k you up when we get off work." Thomas stated to him,"Don't wait till we get off. If you want a piece of me then come get it." Edward Brooks took Thomas down to Mr.Duffy's office and wrote him up for the altercation. Yet the co-worker was never disciplined in any way .
Then to top it all off. Thomas injured his back and left shoulder in march of 2003. After minimal care and Light Duty (cause Mr.Duffy didn't want to have any loss time injuries) ordered by the Concentra doctors they took Thomas too. Thomas was still in pain. After telling this to Mr.Duffy on several occasions he informed Thomas that,"You can use your sick days, but if you take too many you can be terminated."
Then in November of 2003 He hurt the same left side of his back and shoulder again. Thomas was taken to see the Concentra doctors again(a company hired by employers). He was given minimal therapy and light duty (again so there would not be a loss time injury). Even after telling the doctors and Mr.Duffy that He was still hurting. The doctors released Thomas back to work and Mr.Duffy again told him that he could lose his job if he took too many sick days.
Then in February of 2004 Thomas smacked his thumb with a hammer while nailing a cross-brace. He was again taken to Concentra instead of a hospital. Where even after he requested that the nail (which was barely hanging on) be removed. They pushed it back under the cuticle and stitched it in place and put Thomas on light duty (even though he couldn't use his left hand). With the stitches still in and under doctors care. Thomas was called into Mr.Duffy's office and fired. Their excuse was that he was Un-safe.
Thomas found an attorney to represent him in his Workers Comp. claim. But Winchester Homes Inc. and Weyerhaeuser Lumber Corporation has kept this case tied up in worker comp for 10 months as another way of retaliation . Then tried to say that Thomas injuries were not that extensive. They came up with any reason they could to fire him.
This was really done because Thomas was making so many complaints to his supervisors Edward Brooks Sr.( Plant Forman), Edward Duffy (Plant Supervisor) and Larry Freiert (Winchester Homes Baltimore Manager) about the insensitive and racial harassment at the hands of his co-workers.
Thomas Atkins was subjected to continuous, pervasive and severe racial harrassment all the way up until the day he was fired on 2-14-04 and his employer Winchester Homes and Weyerhaeuser Corp. did nothing to help. Instead they wrote him up for small things that everyone else was doing to cover up his complaints of racial intolerance. Thomas was fired for no other reason than complaining about the daily racist treatment he was subjected to.
I think that if enough people call and write to complain about the treatment of this Native American man. This company just might get the message to give this man his just due and stop the ongoing attempt to stop him from recieving compensation for his injuries and his wrongful termination.
I have called to complain and wrote emails to the addresses below. I urge everyone who reads this to do the same. Don't let these people get away with this! After sending your emails and making your telephone calls. Please pass this on to everyone you know and to all Yahoo, MSN and AOL groups.
A Choctaw Wife & Mother
Company numbers & email addresses:
Weyerhaeuser Winchester Homes
1-800-525-5440 1-301-493-5637 or 1-301-474-4411 or 1-301-489-1245
1-800-716-3488 1-410-244-8110 or 1-410-637-1831 or 1-410-637-1837